Lorne Michaels: One of the most powerful people in TV, protege to Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Fallon. The guy who has done more to affect the fortunes of NBC's late night than any other single human being on the planet?
What does he have to say about this?
Now that Conan is officially twisting in the wind, I would imagine that he has reached out to Lorne for counsel. Lorne is the wise man of TV - the greatest impresario, the greatest survivor, the medium has ever known.
So, what is Lorne telling Conan right now?
Unfortunately, I must drift into surmisal, because Lorne is not returning press calls.
Lorne discovered Conan, championed Conan. Conan would be executive producer - one of several - at "The Simpsons" right now if it were not for Lorne. Even if Lorne has no direct financial stake in "Tonight" - which he doesn't - and even if "Later Night" would benefit from a Conan departure (debateble) I believe that on some level, he is loyal to Conan, and vice versa. Yes, of course, Lorne is Lorne - with exquisitely honed survival (and some have said, Machiavellian) instincts. But he also must understand how horribly Conan has been mistreated in this, and how incredibly bad NBC has messed everything up.
So Lorne, I think, would counsel Conan to leave.
It all kinda reminds me of that famous episode - well told in Tom Shales' "Live from New York" - when Lorne got into a huge brawl with then NBC-resident- president-wacko, Fred Silverman. Freddy had wanted Lorne to peal away Gilda Radner for some primetime s how that would save his rapidly imploding presidency; Lorne resisted. The war broke out on the air! Al Franken told viewers to send letters to Silverman demanding that he - Al - should get a black limo and that Fred should not. Silverman was overwhelmed with letters, and the brawl with Lorne stepped up.
Lorne then quit - and after Fred was long gone - returned, king of the world.
The message, from Lorne, perhaps would be: Sometimes its better to make THEM pay, because THEY were at fault. Your stock, in the long run, will go up.
Maybe you know Lorne's famous quote:
"People go to the zoo and they like the lion because it's scary. And the bear because it's intense, but the monkey makes people laugh.”
In this fight, NBC is the monkey.